Seagate's FreeAgent GoFlex: Modular External Storage

GoFlex Upgrade Cables And Auto Backup

Upgrade Cables: FireWire 800, eSATA, USB 3.0

These three adapter cables, as well as a USB 2.0 model, are available as Upgrade Cable products for the FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable product line. The drive connectors always look the same, as these connect via Serial ATA. Inside the connectors, you’ll find different controller types, depending on which interface you choose.

The FireWire 800 option is probably most relevant for Mac users.

eSATA is still the fastest solution, but USB 3.0 will be taking over the performance mainstream soon.

USB 3.0 will be the predominant interface standard by the beginning of 2011.

Auto Backup

The Auto Backup kit is another Upgrade Cable option. This one is based on USB 2.0, but you might notice that the connector is larger than the ones for USB 2.0/3.0 or eSATA. This is because the Auto Backup connector includes flash memory containing Seagate’s consumer-friendly Rebit software, which we reviewed roughly a year ago. Using Replica means that you cannot use the drive for your regular storage needs. It will function only as a backup repository.

Rebit is not ideal for enthusiasts, as it has had issues with RAID setups. The software creates a disaster recovery image of your system drive and stores it onto the Auto Backup-enabled FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable unit. In addition, Rebit constantly backs up your files and handles versioning.

In practice, this means that you cannot lose data in a system drive failure anymore. The backup unit will always have an up-to-date version of all your latest files. The beauty here is that you get read access to all files, which makes recovering individual files really easy. All you have to do is look for them in the directory where you’d expect them to be on your system drive and copy the data.

In order for the backup function to work properly, you first have to attach the cable adapter to your host system without the FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable drive attached. This way, the product can deploy the software, which then manages operation.

We like that Seagate sells the Auto Backup for $29.99, a very reasonable cost given that you get a high level of data safety. However, professional users should be sure to enable Seagate’s included encryption feature or encrypt their important files through other means. Additionally, you’ll lose the storage capacity of your existing drive in exchange for the new backup and disaster recovery capabilities.